This Week in Podcasts a weekly roundup of mini-reviews of all of the podcasts I’ve listened to in a week. If you see any podcasts that you feel are missing from my list, there’s a good chance I haven’t listened to the show yet! Feel free to give me recommendations–as well as any feedback or discussion!–in the comments below, in my asks on tumblr, or on twitter.
This week, More Perfect announced its long-awaited return for October 2nd (though the episode actually got posted on September 30th). Night Vale Presents debuted It Makes a Sound–admittedly at the end of last week, but I experienced it, as I’m sure many did, on the Welcome to Night Vale feed.
Night Vale Present’s I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats also premiered, and it should be said that I won’t be listening to or reviewing the show because, well . . . I don’t listen to The Mountain Goats. I know, this is Music Appreciator heresy. Sorry, y’all. I appreciate the lyrics, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a Sufjan hipster, not a Darnielle hipster.
If you’ve listened to the show and think I’d still get something from it, feel free to let me know. I just don’t have the time to put something into my podcast queue if I don’t think I’ll gain anything from it or have a useful opinion on it.
One final update before we get to the reviews: I’ll be travelling for business October 6-13th. This means that This Week in Podcasts will be on a two-week hiatus after this post. I also won’t be posting any reviews, Podcast Problems posts, etc. I may post some quick updates with any podcast news I see, but it’s unlikely. Similarly, I’ll post a review of Amazon’s adaptation of Lore as soon as possible, but it may not be until well after its premier date. To get the most up-to-date information from me–likely including my initial reactions to Lore–I recommend checking my twitter.
The Far Meridian
“1.8 A Fine Figure”
Since The Far Meridian premiered, I’ve been hesitant to voice my opinions on it. As someone who sees Mischa Stanton as a production idol in the same tier as podcasting figures like Roman Mars and Jad Abumrad, I’ve wanted nothing more than to love The Far Meridian like I have Stanton’s other productions, but found the show falling just below my hopes. Maybe my expectations were too high; maybe the show was still finding its stride. Regardless, this week’s episode was everything I hoped it would be. In this episode, protagonist Peri runs into a man named Roger who is playing a recording of at the top of a mountain. While Eli Barraza’s performance as Peri was especially captivating this episode, Ian McQuown’s Roger stole the show. The Bright Sessions fans may recognize McQuown as Agent Green, two roles that solidify McQuown’s ability to melt into any role he’s given while remaining distinctive and attention-grabbing. Roger plays off of Peri perfectly in this episode with a combination of tenderness and a sharp edge that could only be accomplished with the perfect blend of writing and acting he’s given here. Even in such a short episode, both Peri and Roger have an arc, and it’s one that manages to be moving, cathartic, and still bittersweet. While this show does slip into some rigid writing, when handed to the right actors, it feels seamless.
What’s the Frequency
“A Thank You To Our Sponsor”
It’s amazing that with only one full-length episode and one very short episode, What’s the Frequency? has already become one of the shows I’m most excited about. This week’s episode is a measly two minutes long and still managed to instill more fear, dread, and curiosity in me than any Pacific Northwest Stories production ever did. The production with the static in the beginning is shockingly effective for being both so short and so simple. If you haven’t already started, I recommend listening to this new gem so you won’t have to binge-listen later–I can already tell the pacing of waiting on each episode’s release is going to make the suspense and intrigue even more intense.
“The Continental Divide”
This was not a terrible episode of Strangers, nor was it a terrible episode of Home of the Brave, the podcast featured this week. It was, however, a very poorly-timed podcast. The episode starts with Strangers host Lea Thau lamenting her reporting on a previous episode about the 2016 election. Unfortunately, her introduction, which included moments like comparing herself to “the white people from Get Out,” only served to make her sound more tone-deaf. The rest of the episode was yet another “Let’s talk to republicans about why they voted for Trump” piece–something every single nonfiction podcast seemed to cover months ago. Playing the episode now seemed forced, frustrating, and flat-out tired. One, maybe two of these episodes were necessary (Nancy‘s episode, for instance, comes to mind), but at this point, nothing new is added to the conversation. The only purpose this episode served was to be a half-apology from Thau and bring up frustrations listeners are still trying to fight against.
“What Women Notice When Men Write Female Characters”
I hate writing a negative review for a podcast about video games hosted by two queer women of color, especially when discussing sexism in game writing, but alas, here we are. While the conversation in this episode is great and very with listening to, it doesn’t excuse the minimal consideration to editing and production. While I love the commentary and all of the people involved in the discussion, the production here (which at one point includes the trio’s audio breaking up followed by them hanging up and calling each other again) makes the show feel like it’s banking more on the hosts’ credibility and the Kotaku attachment than making a good show. While this is a great conversation, it isn’t a very good podcast, and I’m always frustrated when I hear big names see more success doing far less than any indie producer would do.
This Week’s Ratings
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking, “14: Best Friends Forever”: B+
- The Hilarious World of Depression, “Wil Wheaton Is Really Hoping It’s All Worth It”: C+
- The Sporkful, “Is The Best Cuban Food Still In Cuba?”: B
- Conversations With People Who Hate Me, “Episode 8: (Don’t) Kill Yourself”: B
- This American Life, “#626: White Haze”: B-
- The Penumbra Podcast, “2.13: Second Citadel–Lady of the Lake”: B-
- Strangers, “The Continental Divide”: C-
- Kind World, “#45: The Storm”: B-
- Rough Translation, “The Refugee’s Dating Coach”: B
- Potterless, “Ep. 25 – Order of the Phoenix Ch. 4-8 w/ Eric Schneider”: B
- Song Exploder, “Lorde – Sober”: B+
- The Far Meridian, “1.8 A Fine Figure”: A-
- Code Switch, “Befuddled By Babies, Love and Ice Pops? Ask Code Switch”: C
- Note to Self, “Ghosting, Simmering, and Icing with Esther Perel”: B+
- Wolf 359, “Mission Mishaps: The Space You’re In”: C+
- Radiolab, “Driverless Dilemma”: B
- My Brother, My Brother and Me, “MBMBaM 373: Face 2 Face: Bonefolders”L: B-
- 99% Invisible, “277-Pointe City Tower”: B
- Join the Party, “Political Party III”: B+
- Greater Boston, “Mini-Episode: You’ve Got to be Sittin’ Me”: B
- Beautiful Stories from Anonymous Strangers, “80. Hiding In A Storage Space”: C
- Fave This, “What Women Notice When Men Write Female Characters”: C-
- Spirits, “Episode 44: Circe (with Jesse Zimmerman)”: B+
- Join the Party, “Afterparty: Political Party III”: B
- What’s the Frequency?, “A Thank You To Our Sponsor”: A-
- The Ghost Radio Project, “PREVIEW of Episode 3: The Lie”: B+
- Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked, “Possession”: C
- Nancy, “#25: Will and Grace Are Back! (But Should They Be?)”: B
- Wonderful!, “Ep. 4: Good As Hell”: B-
- Welcome to Night Vale, “It Makes A Sound: Episode 1, Are You Listening?”: B
- Grammar Girl, “588 – Why People Mimic Accents. Why People ‘Have Your Six.'”: C+
- Snap Judgment, “Snap #820 – The Bear, The Goose and The Whale (Part 2)”: C
- Inkwyrm, “Episode Ten: Burned”: C+
- Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, “American Pendulum I”: B+
- Nancy, “#26: Different in Two Ways”: B-
- Fave This, “Playing Destiny 2 Without the Lore vs Reading It”: C
- CDOMedy, “Episode 14: Time Finally Has Meaning”: B-
- Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked, “The Shadow Men”: B-